Statue of Queen Meritamen

Queen Meritamen was both the daughter, and sometime after the death of Nefertari, her mother, became the Great Royal Wife of her father, Ramesses II. The painted decorations of this statue fragment is still well preserved. Her smile, in particular, is similar to that on a number of statues of Ramesses II. On top of her head, she wears a circular diadem, its base adorned all the way around with a frieze of uraei or rearing cobras with solar disks.

Despite the fact that only the titles of the queen are visible, it is known that this is a statue of Queen Meritamen, a daughter and consort of Ramesses II (ca. 1279-1213 BC), due to an almost identical piece being found in Akhmim. It is remarkable due to its beautiful color, and the detail of the tripartite wig.

Statue of Queen Meritamen
Statue of Queen Meritamen

Meritamen wears two uraei on her forehead, while a diadem of cobras, each with a sun-disc, surmounts her wig. She also wears a large pectoral around her neck, and a tight fitting dress.

The queen holds a menat necklace with the counterweight in the shape of the goddess Hathor, which also allows her to be identified as a priestess; her nipples visible through the tight transparent linen dress appear as small rosettes.

Among the titles preserved in the rear inscription, it appears: Dresser of the sistrum of Mut and the menat nicklace of Hathor, dancer of Hathor.

The fine statue still preserves parts of the original polychrome, red on the lips, dark blue on the wig, yellow on its bands, headdress and jewels reminiscent of the gold that formed those pieces in reality. The polished surface evokes smooth white skin.

Read more: Statue of Queen Tuya

“The nuclear family was the core of Egyptian society and many of the gods were even arranged into such groupings. There was tremendous pride in one’s family, and lineage was traced through both the mother’s and father’s lines.

Respect for one’s parents was a cornerstone of morality, and the most fundamental duty of the eldest son (or occasionally daughter) was to care for his parents in their last days and to ensure that they received a proper burial.

Statue of Queen Meritamen
On top of her head, she wears a circular diadem, its base adorned all the way around with a frieze of uraei or rearing cobras with solar disks.

Countless genealogical lists indicate how important family ties were, yet Egyptian kinship terms lacked specific words to identify blood relatives beyond the nuclear family.

For example, the word used to designate ‘mother’ was also used for ‘grandmother,’ and the word for ‘father’ was the same as ‘grandfather’; likewise, the terms for ‘son,’ ‘grandson,’ and ‘nephew’ (or ‘daughter,’ ‘granddaughter,’ and ‘niece’) were identical. ‘Uncle’ and ‘brother’ (or ‘sister’ and ‘aunt’) were also designated by the same word.

To make matters even more confusing for modern scholars, the term ‘sister’ was often used for ‘wife,’ perhaps an indication of the strength of the bond between spouses.”

Egypt and the Egyptians, by Douglas J. Brewer, Emily Teeter (#aff)

The statue of queen Meritamen was discovered in Thebes , in what she called the “Chapel of the White Queen” of the Ramesseum by the British archaeologist Flinders Petrie in 1896. Now in the Hurghada Museum. JE 31413